Monday, July 30, 2018

What's Up With The Art and Food Trend?

Is it just me or does there seem to be an overflow of art/food related events, pop-ups, gatherings, theme based eves and all the rest? I’m such an actual participator in it, so I can’t say I’m surprised, but it has become soooo on trend that it makes me pause and wonder…

The hopeless contrarian in me always wrinkles the nose when there is just too much of anything happening all at once (especially in the arts) and this new trend; the intersecting of art, creativity, expression, community and food, is just too glaring to ignore.

Of course, of course, food and art have always been entwined or adjacent in some ways. It’s the first subject matter humans actually thought fit to draw on cave walls and it the always-accommodating subject for still life or symbolism. What is fascinating to me about today’s trend though is the idea of ‘community.’

These feeding/food centric events are mostly a way in which people can coalesce and share in something together. The fact that it is food makes the accessibility level low if not always equal. The idea of lifestyle being refined, educated, and elite in some way can be accessed by food more swiftly and cheaply, thus making it a wonderful medium to work with.

Not all food is trying to be superior but there is still always this idea of ‘lifestyle.’ The way one lives is no longer satiated by the exteriority of things. Clothes, labels, ugg so passé. The market of goods and access to them has become so overpopulated that it no longer has the sparkle of uniqueness or rarity.

Food on the other hand is so de rigueur. It can be molded into a story, an experience, it is a door to histories, and a laboratory to futures. It is ingestible alchemy that makes us feel imbued with life, energy, and power because it is literally our source of energy.

We can also indulge in food, eating in a way that is not permissible in other material forms. We NEED to eat, so the act of doing the necessary in a stylized and experiential way comes with little guilt. But gluttons, beware. Other food trends like mukbang can also reflect our times but in possibly more perverse and twisted ways. Instead, the art/food/lifestyle is far more evolved and practically free of moral quandary (on the surface).

So what are these food events and why are they arty? Well because back to that word, community. Art world or art affiliated people that have varying skills from truly cheffy to proficient home cooks organize an event and the attendees are basically all artists or art professionals. There is a love of natural wines, prix fix menus, flowers, and vague mood lighting.

They also cost money. Most are around $25-$40 per person with add-ons of drinks and extra dishes. They are usually in private spaces and require an RSVP. The money, I imagine, goes to the ingredients in large part but have no doubt, there is some profit being made. Probably not a lot in early events but the end game is never really just to squeak by… To counter this ask of money, which can be sacrilegious to ask of ‘the community,’ most events give some of the proceeds to an organization working on behalf of a hot topic issue. Right now it’s border and immigration policies.

I think this is a great gesture. I truly do. But there is something to be wary of when making money requires an asterisk of any sort. But I guess that’s the reality of things and better something then nothing right? Actually, I think it’s a win-win in my heart of hearts but something deep in me still whispers (no…).

Enough of the self-conversation though!

I’m not sure how long this trend will last. It might be here for a while or just another few months. We will see the burn out or the growth as it comes. I really do enjoy it though. It’s like we are all tired of just standing in a room drinking, being hot and not actually seeing any of the art anymore so we said screw it, let’s eat! We want to be more civilized! We want to support people whose skills are ingested and not just put into a storage spaces. It’s a fun thing but am I suspicious? Not sure why, but yes, I's just a gut instinct but perhaps it's just a whole lot of hot air.